Monday, November 29, 2004

Over the weekend, the A's finalized a trade of Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes for Jason Kendall. This is a terrific pick-up for Oakland; Redman will be replaced by Joe Blanton, who is younger, cheaper, and likely better, and dismissing Rhodes' contract will help pay for Kendall. In losing these two contracts, Oakland will only be paying an extra $2M for Kendall's services.

Damian Miller is a decent player, but Kendall is far better, so that's a big improvement behind the plate for Oakland moving into 2005. The A's are taking on some risk in that Kendall is under contract through 2007, by which time he should be quite overpaid. Of course, Miller also signed a three-year deal, with Milwaukee, and in 2007 is likely to be even more overpaid. With the other free agent catcher, Jason Varitek, commanding large sums and years, Kendall was likely the best pick-up Oakland could have made.

(Sweetening the deal for Oakland is the fact that Pittsburgh pays them $5M of Kendall's $13M salary in 2007 -- assuming he's even still around -- and the chances of Kendall being worth $8M at age 33 are much better than Miller's chances of being worth $3M at age 37.)

How big of an upgrade is this for Oakland? Clay Davenport at BPro had Kendall at 7.6 Wins Above Replacement for Position last season, with Miller at 4.4. Miller had 15 Win Shares last year -- good for sixth in the AL -- but Kendall's 25 in the NL bested his runner-up by two wins.

So both methods see about a three-win difference between Miller and Kendall in 2004, which would of course made a considerable impact on the divisional race. I project Kendall to have an OPS+ of 99 this year in 149 games, with Miller at 82 in 111 games.

Rob speculates that the A's will move Kendall before the season starts, but I'm not buying it. He's not that expensive, really, and fills a need for the team offensively and defensively. Our divisional rivals really improved over the weekend; what will the Lads do to counter?

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